The Bittersweet Mt. Apo Climb

By Sarah Aterrado - March 31, 2016

I won't make this long. In fact, I am just going to copy what I have said on Facebook. I don't really feel like writing anything as I am going through something quite devastating. But I owe this blog a lot of posts already. So if my thoughts do not come out nice (or do not come out at all), please pardon me. The fire that is devouring more than 300 hectares of Mt. Apo National Park feels like a stake being driven into my heart. And the bigger and further the fire goes, the deeper the wound gets. I might sound a little too overreacting but this is how I truly feel.

Today is the sixth day Mt. Apo is engulfed in fire. It pains me to know a place I've always considered home turn into ashes. And what hurts more is when I have seen it with my very eyes. I hate a lot of things this moment. I hate the irresponsibility that caused the damage. I hate how inept, inutile, and insensitive our national government is when it comes to matters like this. And I hate being weak and frail for I cannot do anything but watch helplessly from the sidelines and pray to the Almighty for a heavy downpour. If only I can do something more, other than just disseminating information and offering monetary help, then I might feel a little better.


A few days ago, I came home from a bittersweet climb. Unfortunate things do happen, I just didn't expect it to be this horrible and depressing.

I am posting this because I want to share with you Mt. Apo in its full magnificence and glory - which I never thought would be the last we'll ever see.

I want to share how Mt. Apo changed me back then and how it changed my friends who just experienced Mt. Apo's wonders for the first time. For we have not only conquered our fear of heights, faced the steep and all-assault trail, the hell boulders, the 87-degree cliff, or braved the freezing nights, but we learned a lot about survival, camaraderie, discipline, and the principles of Leave No Trace.
Mt. Apo Boulder Face
Jamie, Jan, Sarah, Cie, Bretch
I want to share how Mt. Apo taught us patience, persistence, and gratitude. That nothing is unachievable as long as we keep going. That everything - no matter how small - should be appreciated and not taken for granted.
The boulders of Mt. Apo

And lastly, Mt. Apo was there to remind us how small we really are to show how big our Creator is. And for that, I humbly bow down to His greatness.
Mt. Apo peak
Great photo sans the ugly graffiti
I grieve for Mt. Apo's demise. But I know, although not anytime soon, it will heal and will come back to life as radiant and as glorious as it was back then. I will wait for the day when its peaks turn green again. And I vow to protect it from any form of destruction.
Mt. Apo peak

Thank you for the memories, Mt. Apo. I've been with you three times and there's no denying it, kahit nakakapagod kang akyatin, ikaw pa rin ang binabalik-balikan ko.
Mt. Apo from Lake Venado
Mt. Apo a few hours before the fire.
at Lake Venado

You did well protecting us and teaching us about life. You deserve more than just admiration. You are worthy of our reverence and respect.

You've already done a lot. But for now, rest well my friend.
Burning Mt. Apo on the background
Burning Mt. Apo behind us.

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  1. Sharing the same sentiments, Sar. Makalagot jud ning national government. Busy pa sa pangampanya. #PRIORITIES

    1. As in! Grabe akong dumot. I wake up with a heavy heart since we got back from Mt. Apo. Haaay. Makalagot jud ang nahitabo.

  2. Ouch. Caused by irresponsible "mountaineers" wanna-be. Plus government that seems more concerned in campaign. What has Philippines gotten into?

  3. Yung pinagmamalaki nating pinakamataas na bundok ng Pilipinas pinabayaan lang. Walang tulong sa gubyerno. Kawawa na mga volunteers. Tapos magsisisi pag huli na lahat.